Assam: Bandh in Sonitpur against inclusion of Bodo villages in BTR evokes mixed response

Tezpur (Assam), Jan 28 (PTI) A 12-hour Sonitpur bandh called by two students’ organisations on Saturday to protest against the Assam government’s decision to include Bodo-majority villages in the Bodoland Territorial Region evoked mixed response.
Shops and commercial establishments remained closed and passenger vehicles kept off the roads in some pockets of the district during the shutdown, police said.
Security arrangements were beefed up in the district in view of the bandh, and no untoward incident has been reported so far, a senior officer said.
All Adivasi Students’ Union of Assam (AASAA) and All Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Union (AATTSA) had called for the shutdown to protest against the government’s decision to include villages with over 80 per cent Bodo population falling under the five assembly constituencies in Sonitpur and adjoining districts in the BTR.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, during his Republic Day speech, had announced the inclusion of Bodo-majority villages of Dhekiajuli, Sootea, Biswanath, Behali and Gohpur constituencies in the BTR, fulfilling a longstanding demand of the community.
Around 60 villages of Sonitpur will be included in the BTR as per the decision.
Notably, a stretch on National Highway-211 connecting Sonitpur with Arunachal Pradesh was on Friday blocked between Bhalukpong and Balipara for a brief period by people to protest against the decision.
Hundreds of people belonging to non-Bodo communities had also gathered outside the office of the Chariduar revenue circle officer and gheraoed it.
The protesters called off the blockade after Sootea MLA Padma Hazarika explained to them that the decision was taken only for villages with over 80 per cent Bodo population.